Food & Drink

Sweet Dreams in Scotch Plains-Fanwood

841d7d6bf541a5e3017f_Backing_-_Mara_s_cupcakes.jpg
Available in an inviting café atmosphere, Mara's desserts are rated among the best in the state. Credits: John Mooney
c96f97108c3e3bf8a183_Baking_-_Rugelach.jpg
The traditional Jewish pastry is to die for. Credits: John Mooney
9dad5c9c62d62e78e936_Baking_-_Sweet_Lou.jpg
Once a place for great bakery goods, Sweet Lew's shelves are now sadly empty.   Credits: John Mooney
11453512bdefef780fbf_My_Town_Bakery_outside.jpg
Credits: John Mooney
841d7d6bf541a5e3017f_Backing_-_Mara_s_cupcakes.jpg

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - This week, My Town Bakery abruptly closed its doors after 15 years in downtown Scotch Plains. In nearby Plainfield, Sweet Lew’s and its predecessor, Margie’s Cake Box, could not survive. Even Entenmann's, a staple in supermarkets across the tri-state area for more than 50 years, announced that it would close its Bay Shore, N.Y. bakery. 

One begins to wonder if there is any dough to be made in the baking business. The key is to deliver quality.

John Cioffi, owner of the Swiss Pastry Shoppe at 1711 E. Second St. in Scotch Plains, has been operating in the same location for 27 years. His shelves are filled with cookies, danishes, crumb cakes and bagels made on site.  However, the Italian immigrant attributes much of his success to orders for wedding cakes and his outstanding chocolate, raspberry, and apricot rugelach. The bakery fulfills orders for many of the local temples and catering halls that specialize in bar mitzvahs and other Jewish affairs.

Sign Up for E-News

“Sunday is our busiest day, but a lot of people don’t realize we are here,” said Cioffi, 78, as he handed cookies to a customer’s two young sons. “Baking is a hard business to survive in if you are only selling retail. We sell wholesale to clubs and caterers and do specialty items like wedding cakes.”

Mara’s Café, at the intersection of South Avenue and Martine Avenue in Fanwood, has a dazzling array of cupcakes and other goodies, including gourmet gelato. The café was voted Best Coffeehouse in New Jersey by the readers of New Jersey Monthly magazine.

“Margins are tight in the baking business. We use butter cream, which makes a higher quality product with better taste, but the shelf life is shorter than you get from supermarket baked goods that use shortening,” said Marci Semel, who is about to celebrate her first anniversary of opening Mara’s. “You have to plan well – both the amount of product you make and how you manage your staff in order to be profitable.”

Scotch Plains and Fanwood are fortunate to each have one of the top rated dessert-makers in the state. For more of traditional, old-fashioned bakery experience, visit the Swiss Pastry Shoppe. For a coffeehouse atmosphere with exquisite desserts and outstanding fresh brewed coffees and specialty beverages, including cappuccinos, Mara’s is the choice.  

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Westfield Family Continues ‘Summer of Kindness’ with Infant Clothing Drive

July 12, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield mom and teacher Sara Liptack is continuing her family’s “Summer of Kindess” with an infant clothing for Furniture Assist, an organization in Springfield that helps formerly homeless people, veterans, the elderly, fire victims, refugees and people fleeing domestic violence.

“I said, ‘What’s the one thing you really ...

It's Not What You Are Eating, It's What's Eating You

EMOTIONAL EATING: FEEDING YOUR FEELINGS

Emotional eating can be described as episodes of binge-eating, grazing and/or eating when not hungry to soothe feelings. Emotional eaters have a pattern of eating to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and problems of daily life.

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of physical symptoms initiating the eating, ...

Let's Talk About Suicide

In our world today, it seems our children, no matter the town, state, education, family unit, socioeconomic background, ethnicity or religion are grappling with complex, confounding and complicated issues not even fit for a middle-aged adult. Sadly, one of these issues is suicide. With mental health gaining more attention, the stigma appears to be dissipating but when a mental health ...

What Is Your Bottom Line?

This week's Parshah (Torah reading) is the Parshah of Pinchas the Zealot: the courageous young priest who stood up against idolatry and immorality and, in the end, saved Israel from a devastating plague.

While Pinchas' radical response made him a hero worthy of having a Torah section named after him, we wouldn't necessarily suggest to our children ...

Affordable Housing Hearing In Trenton Needs Your Voice

July 16, 2018

Dear Editor:

Recently Mayor Al Smith of Scotch Plains joined the chorus of ordinary suburban New Jersey voices  who are deeply concerned about NJ overdevelopment in the guise of affordable housing.  Prominent names like Asm. Jon Bramnick, Asw. Holly Schepisi and NJ101.5 radio host Bill Spadea have also expressed concern. 

Unfortunately, I ...

When to Dial 911: Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month

July 10, 2018

There are many times you should call 911. If you or someone around you is in true medical distress, such as experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pains, bleeding, possible stroke, or any other serious health issues, then 911 should be called as soon as possible. If there are wires down, fire, a crime in progress, or other dangerous conditions to people or property, call 911 ...

Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey Encourages Family Fun with Online Fishing Tournament

July 16, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ — The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) is asking families to cast their lines and reel in some quality time this summer as part of the fourth annual Don’t Get Hooked on Drugs Online NJ Family Fishing Tournament.

The competition will be held from July 27 to August 5 as a way to encourage families to enjoy a day of fishing, while giving ...